I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time. I’m not sure I’m ready to do it. But it appears that it’s time to try.
Let’s start with the personal. There are days when I write a blog post and receive no comments about it whatsoever. Should I assume then that, on that day, nobody read my blog? From the “Reader Reaction” perspective, though unlikely – I hope – such an assumption is not entirely impossible.
This is not a plea for comments, though a few more would be gratefully appreciated, so on some tangential level, it is. What this is really about – and in the
World of my Brain it has reverberating consequences – is “Who exactly it is that you hear from, and what percentage of the overall “all the people” do they and their opinions represent?
This issue matters, says this writer, and perhaps others as well, I just have not heard them talk about it, which, in my mind, means that either I am saying something original, or I am saying something so screamingly obvious, the rest of the world feels no need to talk about it, and to be totally honest, I can never determine which it is.
(There is also a third option. What I’m saying has thought-provoking value, but it is not worth mentioning because what I’m talking about is never going to happen.
“We need three quarters of the states to vote for a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College so that the less populated states will no longer have a disproportionate amount of power. What do you say, North Dakota? Are you in?”
In 2008, there was an usually high voter turnout, helping elect Barack Obama President of the United States. In the 2010 midterm election, however, the extreme faction of the Republican party, that hates Barack Obama, showed up at the polls in full and passionate force, while the Obama supporters did not.
The result was, that the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, enabling them, in a divided government, to successfully oppose a substantial portion of the elected President’s agenda.
And therein lies the dilemma. Because they showed up to vote, an intense and uncompromising minority now speaks for the majority of the country. As a result, no legislation, no matter how popular – e.g., even the most benign form of control gun proposals – can get through.
Influence and control appear to be simply a question of who makes the biggest noise. Mel Brooks once said, “We’re all talking; I’ve got the mouth!”
We’re all talking. But the Tea Party has the mouth.
What we are talking about here is a matter of fundamental Group Dynamics. The most obstreperous kid in class (or in a family, or in a cabin at camp) invariably gets the preponderance of the attention.
Where does that leave everybody else?
A guy at a party I attended recently opined, “I would say that eighty percent of the country agrees about pretty much everything.” He may be overshooting there with the eighty percent, but theoretically, I concur.
People on opposite sides of the political spectrum, have areas of agreement – both Right and Left, for example, believe that corporations (including Wall Street) have an inordinate amount of influence on the legislative process. (As Jon Stewart once said, if not in these exact words, “It is not because of the Middle Class that our Tax Code has so many pages.”)
There are certain problems that virtually all of us agree need attending to.
So why don’t we act like it?
The most proximate reason for today’s post?
I have watched the show Homeland on two occasions, for a total of maybe ten minutes. (On the second occasion, I observed a character I did not know but who was possibly not a doctor, extracting a bullet from another character I did not know’s abdomen. It did not substantially hold my interest.)
On “Page One” of today’s L.A. Times, there’s an article about how a barrage of social media specifically dedicated to Homeland, and once passionate on its behalf, has now turned against it.
The newspaper article strongly suggested that TV shows can today be made or broken, not just by the buzz of critical commentary but by the mere fact that there is commentary at all.
Quoting the article,
“Trends in social media and the sophistication of television dramas have created a new breed of Instant Response Viewer that increasingly affects how a show is perceived, to its benefit or detriment.”
Think about that. People writing on blogs and websites are now, if not determining, then greatly influencing the success or failure of TV shows.
My question is, the people writing in those venues? Exactly how many of them are there? Compared, say, to the overall viewing audience, who, by contrast, are keeping their mouths shut, and simply watching the shows?
It appears to me – and it is seriously concerning – that in a democratic country, where the majority is supposed to rule,
The majority is actually never heard from.
Which, by default, allows the (active and highly vocal) minority to rule.
How the heck did that happen?
And what can the majority do about it?
(If your answer is, “Get involved”, my answer is “We never do.”)